Mario Vargas Llosa has an unusual background for a Nobel literature laureate. He was born in 1936. His parents sent him to the Leoncio Prado military academy in Peru, an experience that wrote about and which made him famous.
As a young man, Llosa studied law and literature in Latin America and Spain. The he moved to Paris, where he worked as a journalist.
In the mid-60s, he caught the attention of the world with his controversial novel The Time of the Hero. It drew on his experiences from the military academy, but sparked outrage among his former colleages. The officers burned a thousand copies.
In 1990, Llosa even ran for the Peruvian presidency for the center-right wing alliance, but lost.
Swedish writer and critic Mikael Timm told Swedish Radio news that some five or ten years ago, he and his colleagues had actually been prepared for Llosa to win, but now, the choice comes as a surprise.
"We have spoken so long about him as a possible Noble prize winner, and why we decided now, I don't know. Maybe we are taking up a list and we have to take someone who does not write in the magical realism genre – another sort of writer."